GOGOL BORDELLO BRING THEIR "SEEKERS AND FINDERS" TOUR TO GLASGOW
12 years after their breakthrough album ‘Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike’, Gogol Bordello remain a fascinating act with their unique blend of Eastern European folk rock and US punk. Singer/songwriter Eugene Hutz wears his Romani heritage on his sleeve as he recruits an ethnically diverse transnational band, the line-up of which has always been slightly fluid in their near 20 year career. What this has created is a cultural celebration. Their extravagant use of instrumentation, story-telling and style is what put them on the map but their ability to write great songs underneath all this is what has helped to maintain their relevance as they take to the stage at Glasgow’s O2 Academy to showcase their new album ‘Seekers and Finders’.
Support came from New York quintet ‘Lucky Chops’ which was the first indication that things were going to be more than a bit different from the ordinary at this gig. Consisting of Trombone, Tenor Saxophone, Tuba, Trumpet and Drums, the band impressively tore through a set of brassy rock with ska influences. Their ability to hype the crowd as a brass band was phenomenal, the set culminating in a mash-up featuring Lipps, Inc’s ‘FunkyTown’ and James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’ as the trombone player ran through the crowd. Their energy and enthusiasm made them an interesting watch for sure.
Opening with ‘Break into Your Higher Self’ from ‘Seekers and Finders’, Gogol Bordello dominated the stage with, Guitars, Violin, Bass, Accordion, Backing Singers, Percussion and Drums. All of which were used to great effect, each instrument complimenting and adding to the sound without washing it away. Early renditions of classic tracks ‘Not a Crime’ and ‘Wanderlust King’ propelled the sing-alongs into full momentum, the crowd nearly drowning the band out at points. With the look of basking travellers, the band hyperactively bound across the stage with great energy showing little tire despite this being the last date of their extensive European tour.
The middle of the set featured tracks spanning their extensive discography including songs such as ‘My Companjera’, ‘Alcohol’, ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Trans-Continental Hustle’. Percussionist Pedro Ezaro frequently came to the front to MC along with vocalist Pamela Racine. Lucky Chops also joined the band to provide brass at various points throughout the set. At points the stage seemed like a massive instrumental party with a tight rhythmic backbone keeping the musical madness together. Hutz served as their ringleader and never allowed everything to fall apart or become tedious.
The set reached its peak towards the end by throwing out tracks from their magnum opus ‘Underdog World Strike’. Instrumental jam ‘Mishto!’ showed the crowd what Klezmer music would sound like if it was played in CBGB’s, the dramatic ‘Start Wearing Purple’ featured manic story-telling that was equal parts Russian folk-lore and Tom Waits and the intensively aggressive ‘Sally’ made their call for a “cultural revolution” all the more sincere. Encore tracks ‘Think Locally, Fuck Globally’ and ‘Sun Is on My Side’ presented the two ends of Gogol Bordello’s musical spectrum. The former song providing the final aggressive cultural call-to-arms of the evening with the latter being a stripped back acoustic number performed by Hutz on his own. This was a great reminder that underneath everything, there lies one man’s talent for writing songs that have incredible stories.